1972 WSOP Main Event Champ Amarillo Slim Passes Away at 83
The poker world was saddened to learn that poker legend and 1972 WSOP Main Event Champion Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston passed away this past Sunday at the age of 83 after a fight with colon cancer.
Slim is really the first real superstar of poker as he turned his 1972 Main Event win into a media tour going on several talk shows that included the Tonight Show. Also, Slim had a small role in the 1974 movie California Split and he also appeared on the popular game show “I’ve Got a Secret.”
For his career, Slim won 4 WSOP bracelets. In addition to his 72 championship, h e won the 1974 $1,000 NL Hold’em Event as well as the $5,000 PL Omaha Event in both 1985 and 1990. Slim was also associated with the Super Bowl of Poker and was the host of the event from 1980 to the last event held in 1991. During its heyday, the Super Bowl of Poker was second only to the WSOP.
In addition to his prowess at the poker table, Slim was known for his extravagant prop bets where he tried to find every advantage he could in order to win. This continue into his later life as he won $20,000 from Doyle Brunson in a scooter race at the 2010 WSOP when it was reported that Slim chose a brand of scooter he knew would be slowed down by Brunson’s larger size.
In later life, Slim faced some legal problems stemming from allegations of child molestation against his 12 year-old granddaughter. Slim eventually accepted a plea bargain of misdemeanor assault on February 10, 2004 and received 2 years probation. He was interviewed in 2009 by Nolan Dalla and Slim claimed that he was innocent but accepted the deal to spare his family from going through the court process.
Upon learning of his death, many in the poker world chose to focus on the more positive aspects of Slim’s career and his prop betting prowess. For his career, Slim “officially” has $587,568 in career winnings. Of course, before the late 90′s, most tournament records were not kept and there are stories that claim that Slim cut a deal with the final two participants at the 72 WSOP where he took the title and they kept the money. Slim’s final recorded WSOP cash was in 2007 when he finished 96th in the Seniors Event and his last final career final table was in 2009 when he finished 4th in a $500 event at the Deep Stack Extravaganza at the Venetian.
Amarillo Slim will be remember as poker’s first superstar. His antics at and away from the table were stuff of legends and the game lost something special when it lost one of the last of poker’s road gamblers.